10 essential verbs you need to know in Italian + useful sentences

Updated: Jan 7

Although there are many verbs you need to know in Italian to speak it fluently, here you will find a list of 10 essential verbs you absolutely need to learn if you’re starting to learn Italian.

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Ciao a tutti and welcome to this new article. In today’s post we will look at 10 very important verbs you need to learn if you’re starting to learn Italian.

We will go over their conjugation in the present and also look at some useful sentences to better understand the meaning of these verbs. Unfortunately, most of these verbs are irregular.

This is because the more a verb is used in a language the higher the chance that verb is going to be irregular. I am not kidding, this happens all the time, it’s an actual pattern!

Now let’s start with some verbs!

Andare (to go)

Let’s look at the conjugation of this verb in the present.

Io vado

Tu vai

Lui/Lei va

Noi andiamo

Voi andate

Loro vanno

Andare means to go. Let’s use it in one sentence.

  • Vado in palestra due volte alla settimana. I go to the gym twice a week.

  • Dove vai? Where are you going?

Remember that “andare” is used when the movement happens far away from the people talking. That’s why I say “Vado a Roma”, because Roma is far both for me and you! If you were in Roma I would say...


Io vengo

Tu vieni

Lui/Lei viene

Noi veniamo

Voi venite

Loro vengono

As I was saying before, I would say “Vengo a Roma” because the movement is towards you and you are in Rome. But If I am in Milan and I ask you when you’re coming to Milan I would say:

  • Quando vieni a Milano? When are you coming to Milan?

That’s because I am in Milan!

This verb is also extremely important in the expression:

  • Da dove vieni? - Vengo dall’Italia. Where do come you from? I come from Italy.

Fare (to do, to make)

Fare is one of the most versatile verbs in Italian, it’s used with so many words and also found in many expressions. Let’s look at its conjugation:

Io faccio

Tu fai

Lui/Lei fa

Noi facciamo

Voi fate

Loro fanno

The main meaning of fare is to do or to make. For example:

  • Che fai? What are you doing?

  • Che fai domani? What are you doing tomorrow?

  • Faccio una torta. I am making a cake.

Potere (can)

Potere is one of the three modal verbs in Italian. Let’s look at the conjugation:

Io posso

Tu puoi

Lui/lei può

Noi possiamo

Voi potete

Loro possono

Technically potere means can, however it’s actual meaning is more than that. We usually use this verb to describe permission or external circumstances. If you want to know more about this topic you can watch this video here. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Posso avere un bicchiere d’acqua. (permission) Can I have a glass of water?

  • Non posso uscire oggi. I can't go out today.

  • Scusami, puoi ripetere? (Permission) Excuse me, can you repeat?

Riuscire (to be able to)

Riuscire is one of those underused verbs in Italian by students but I don’t really understand why as “riuscire” is one of the most used verbs by Italians. It’s conjugation is a little tricky but it’s pretty much the same as the verb uscire only with “ri” in front of it.

Io riesco

Tu riesci

Lui/lei riesce

Noi riusciamo

Voi riuscite

Loro riescono

Opposite to “potere”, “riuscire” more refers to the physical or mental ability to do or not do something. For example:

  • Riesci a guidare stasera? Can you drive tonight?

  • Non riesco a venire alla festa. I can't come to the party.

Again, if you’re interested in a more detailed video about this topic, please visit this link.

Sapere (to know)

Sapere is also extremely used in Italian. Let’s look at the conjugation.

Io so

Tu sai

Lui/Lei sa

Noi sappiamo

Voi sapete

Loro sanno

Sapere has two different meanings:

  • To know a fact.

  • To know how to do something.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Sai che a ora apre il ristorante? Do you know what time the restaurant opens?

  • Sai nuotare? - No, non so nuotare! Can you swim? - No, I can't swim!